Email purporting to be from Canadian lottery winner Tom Crist, claims that the recipient’s email address has been selected to receive $1.2 million. The email claims that Tom Crist is giving all of his winnings to “charity, individuals and organisations”.
The email is not from Tom Crist. It is an advance fee scam designed to trick recipients into sending their money and personal information to criminals. Mr Crist really did win a very large lottery prize and he is indeed giving all of his winnings to charity. However, he is not distributing the money to strangers based on the random selection of their email address.
Subject: Charity Donation Funds.Tom Crist, the Canadian man that won a $40 million Canadian dollar lottery
prize is writing to inform you that Google in alliance with Facebook have
submitted your Email-Address to receive $1,200,000.00 USD from me, as I have
decided to give all my winnings away to charity, individuals and
For claims, send me your *Full-Names, *Age, *Phone-Number, *Address and
my recent donations on link below;
According to this email, the lucky recipient has been chosen to receive a whopping $1.2 million from generous Canadian lottery winner Tom Crist. The email claims that Tom Crist has decided to give all of his more than forty million dollar prize to “charity, individuals and organisations”. And, claims the message, the recipient’s email address, was randomly selected via an alliance between Google and Facebook.
Tom Crist is a real person and he really did win a very large prize in a Canadian lottery. And, Mr Crist has told media outlets that he intends to donate his entire $42 million prize to charity.
However, this email is not from Tom Crist and the recipient is certainly not set to receive an unexpected million-dollar windfall as claimed. In fact, the message is an advance fee scam designed to separate naïve recipients from their money and personal information.
Those who take the bait and reply with their information as instructed will soon receive follow-up messages from “Tom” that claim that various fees must be paid in advance before the funds can be released. The scammer – still pretending to be Tom Crist – will claim that the money is required to cover legal and insurance costs, tax, banking fees, and a host of other – entirely imaginary – expenses. The scammers will make it clear that if the recipient does not pay all of the requested fees up front, he or she will forfeit the claim on the windfall. Requests for fees will likely to continue until the victim runs out of money or at last realizes that he or she is being scammed.
And, as the scam unfolds, the criminal may have managed to trick the victim into supplying a large amount of personal and financial information. This data may later be used to steal the victim’s identity.
Over the last few years, it has become a common advance fee scammer tactic to use the names of real lottery winners as a means of gaining new victims. As in the case of Tom Crist, lottery winners often do give some or all of their winnings to charity. However, it is extremely unlikely that any lottery winner would choose to randomly distribute millions of dollars to strangers based on the selection of their email address. Almost as unlikely as Google and Facebook forming an alliance to choose such a winning email address.
Internet users should be very wary of any email or social media message that claims that they have been awarded a large sum of money from a lottery win, grant or promotional draw, based on the random selection of their name, username, or email address. Such claims should be treated with the utmost suspicion.
Advance fee scams such as the one described here are very common and continue to find new victims every day.
Last updated: January 13, 2014
First published: January 13, 2014
By Brett M. Christensen
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